Hypertension in Children
Not only adults, but children are also at risk of experiencing high blood pressure, or hypertension.
As with adults, hypertension in children can cause serious long-term complications. such as heart disease, kidney disorders, and stroke.
For an adult, it may be easy to tell if he has hypertension simply by checking his blood pressure and comparing it to what it should be. Although children will also run the same tests, interpreting the numbers is more complicated. The doctor will use a chart based on the child's gender, height, and blood pressure to determine whether he has hypertension or not.
Hypertension in children usually does not cause symptoms in the early stages of the disease. However, there are several signs that can indicate a child is experiencing an emergency due to high blood pressure. The following symptoms occur:
-Rapid heart rate
-hard to breathe
The Causes of Hypertension in Children
High blood pressure, or hypertension, in children is often associated with other health conditions, such as heart defects, kidney disease, genetic conditions, or hormonal disorders. Children who are older and have excess weight are more at risk of experiencing primary hypertension.
The risk factors for children experiencing hypertension depend on health conditions, genetics, and lifestyle factors. Based on the risk factors, hypertension in children is divided into 2 categories, namely:
Primary hypertension can occur by itself, without an identifiable cause. This type of hypertension is more common in children who are older, for example, 6 years and older. risk factors for primary hypertension in children, namely:
- Being overweight or obese
- Having a family history of high blood pressure
- Having type 2 diabetes or high blood sugar levels
- Having high cholesterol
- Eating too much salty food
- Being Hispanic
- Being male
- Exposure to cigarette smoke
- Lack of physical activity
- Having secondary hypertension
2. Secondary Hypertension
Secondary hypertension is caused by other conditions and is more common in children. Causes of this hypertension include:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Polycystic kidney disease
- Heart problems, such as severe narrowing (coarctation) of the aorta
- Adrenal disorders
- Pheochromocytoma, a rare tumor of the adrenal gland
- Narrowing of the arteries to the kidneys (renal artery stenosis)
- Sleep disturbances (sleep apnea)
- consumption of certain drugs
How to Prevent and Overcome Hypertension in Children
In general, the treatment of hypertension in children is not much different from that of adults. The following ways can help prevent and treat hypertension:
1. Implementing a hypertension diet
One important way to deal with hypertension in children is through a healthy diet that is often recommended to reduce high blood pressure, namely the DASH diet. In this diet method, children must eat less fat, more vegetables, fruit, and whole grains; reduce salt intake; and reduce sweet foods and drinks, including juice. so that the child's blood pressure is stable and various complications are avoided.
2. Introduce children to regular physical activity and exercise
Exercising regularly can also help lower blood pressure. This is because being active and getting used to exercising regularly have a big impact on the health of blood vessels and the heart. Therefore, make sure the child exercises for at least 1 hour a day and choose the type of exercise that is appropriate for the child's age.
3. Keep children away from cigarette smoke
Frequent exposure to cigarette smoke can increase blood pressure and damage a child's heart and blood vessels. So, as much as possible, protect children from cigarette smoke, especially from the people around them.
4. Give blood pressure-lowering drugs to children as directed by the doctor.
Blood pressure-lowering drugs will only be given by a doctor if lifestyle changes are not successful in reducing hypertension. Hypertension drugs may be given temporarily or take longer, depending on the child's condition.
In addition, if a child is known to be at risk for developing hypertension, it is best if the child's blood pressure is checked regularly starting at the age of 3 years. Uncontrolled hypertension can also damage the eye by causing the arteries to narrow and twist, thereby restricting the blood supply. Finally, this condition can lead to vision problems. If not treated immediately, hypertension in children can continue into adulthood and increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, heart failure, and kidney disease in the future. Immediately consult a doctor to get the right examination and treatment.